Drink: Casta Pasion Reposado tequila
No one in the liquor biz has as much fun, it seems, as those who design bottles for high-end tequila.
Agave's spirit can be found inside glass bulls and cowboy boots, machine guns, phallic symbols, and Mayan jaguar-man deity heads branded as Apocalypto.
And that's just one shelf at West Side Discount Liquors, the seemingly generic gas station grocery store on the edge of increasingly Mexican Hammonton, where manager Eliseo Centeno stocks more than 600 labels.
The selection is both dizzying and unexpected, from the bargain Don Timbón plastic jugs shaped like mariachis with anatomically correct spouts ($29.99 for 1.75 liters) to George Clooney's Casamigos Reposado ($52.99).
Instinctively, I chose the understated elegance of the square, scarf-wrapped Casta Pasión, and wasn't disappointed.
This 100 percent blue agave reposado is one of the smoothest I've had for less than $40, its distinctively citrusy agave fruit framed by just under a year of oak-aged vanilla and a peppery finish.
For quite a bit more elsewhere, of course, the same Casta tequila can be found in a bottle shaped like a worm.
- Craig LaBan
Casta Pasion Reposado, $37.99, West Side Discount Liquors, 730 12th St., Hammonton, 609-704-7660.